The lowdown on ITIL

Where should I start?

Instead of tackling the Information Technology Infrastructure Library all at once, try starting with problem areas where the framework can have an immediate effect.

Jack White, vice president of solutions development at TechTeam Government Solutions, suggested using lean manufacturing and Six Sigma practices to identify areas of waste.

When asked which processes top the list for rebuilding, Majed Saadi, consulting services manager at QinetiQ North America's IT Services Group, identified change management and the service desk as areas where people often start.

The Air Force, which began ITIL adoption about two years ago, has focused on change management, asset management and service desk, said David Proctor, a member of the Network Operations division of the Warfighter Systems Integration and Deployment Directorate in the Office of Warfighting Integration and Chief Information Officer.

What tools do I need?

Automated tools aren't absolutely necessary. Saadi said organizations can forgo tools and take a paper-based approach to ITIL adoption. But in doing so, they risk losing a lot of the value ITIL has to offer, he added.

Configuration management databases, service desk automation and knowledge management systems are tools that might come into play.

The Air Force has taken an incremental approach to ITIL tools and processes.

'Implementing ITIL in a phased critical for the success of the effort,' said Maj. Brian Jenrette, chief of the Enterprise Solutions Branch at the Integration and Development Directorate of Warfighter Integration.

'Phased deployment enables managing complexity of technology tools and managing within budget cycles,' he said.

What's new with ITIL Version 3?

ITIL Version 3, published last year, departs in a few ways from its predecessor.

Michael Nieves, a partner at Accenture and an author of ITILv3, said Version 2 addressed some of the challenges of moving from a technology focus to a service focus but left out a few steps. Version 2 focuses on the more efficient use of scarce IT resources, but Version 3 takes a step outside the IT department, he said.

The new version, Nieves said, calls for adopters to begin with an understanding of what the business customer will do with an IT service. 'Version 3 says, 'What business outcomes are we trying to help facilitate?' ' Nieves said.

ITILv3 also takes a life cycle approach, which was lacking in Version 2.

Nieves called Version 2 a child of the 1990s, reflecting that period's interest in business process engineering. A process focus is good, but a fixation on process introduces problems, he said. An IT organization that pours concrete on processes might encounter difficulty when business imperatives change.

ITILv3, however, lends a temporal dimension to the framework and helps organizations make course corrections as the business changes, Nieves said.

About the Author

John Moore is a freelance writer based in Syracuse, N.Y.


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